For someone who has a knack for numbers and wants to impart their knowledge and skills to future generations, pursuing a career as a math teacher can serve to be a challenging yet rewarding and fulfilling experience.
But what does one need to know on how to be a math teacher?
Math teachers have the opportunity to instill lifelong analytical, critical thinking, cognitive, and problem-solving skills in their students and develop future leaders, especially in the diverse fields of science, technology, and engineering.
This guide will provide all the vital information on how to be a math teacher and the salary and job prospects associated with this exciting profession.
What Does a Math Teacher Do?
A math teacher instructs students in middle school and high school in the various mathematical areas of study.
These may include but are not limited to algebra, functions and graphs, angles, trigonometry, pre-calculus, and geometry.
They plan and deliver engaging lessons, encourage classroom discussion, grade tests and assignments, give one-on-one attention to students, evaluate progress, and provide feedback on how students can better grasp complex mathematical concepts and improve their skills.
Math teachers must track their students’ progress at each stage of learning and ensure that they comprehend each mathematical concept before moving to teach a new one.
Many math topics require students to build on their existing knowledge before moving on to a more advanced level, as the foundation of the next concept is typically based upon the previous one.
How To Be a Math Teacher
Before they can start teaching math in middle or high school, a few qualifications and credentials are a must-have.
While specific requirements may vary by state, the following are some general yet crucial prerequisites to becoming a certified math teacher:
1. Earn a Bachelor’s Degree
The ideal path to becoming a math teacher is earning an undergraduate degree in mathematics from an accredited institution or a minor in math.
It equips graduates with a solid foundation in all the core fundamentals of mathematics, including courses like algebra, advanced calculus, geometry, and elementary statistics.
Students may also choose to get a bachelor’s degree in education with a concentration in mathematics. While it is not a requirement, some students also double major in mathematics and education.
Those wishing to teach math at the elementary level typically obtain an elementary education degree.
2. Complete a Student Teaching Practicum
Depending upon the state, students may also be required to complete a student teaching internship during or after their undergraduate degree.
Student teaching practicums last almost a semester, whereby aspiring teachers work under the supervision of a licensed instructor in a classroom setting and gain valuable experience in the main aspects of teaching.
These typically include teaching students, classroom management, grading papers, planning coursework, etc.
During the first part of the practicum, they will observe the instructor in a classroom, whereas the second part will involve them taking over the class.
3. Obtain Licensure
After completing their undergraduate degree, aspiring teachers must satisfy their state-specific licensing requirements to begin teaching at a public school.
While requirements to earn state licensure may vary by state, most states generally require them to pass the PRAXIS exams, which will test their subject knowledge and reading, writing, and general mathematics skills.
Teachers must check with their respective Board of Education to verify which exam they must take.
After earning their state-issued certification, they will become eligible to apply for math teaching jobs and start teaching at the secondary level, i.e., middle school or high school.
4. Pursue Advanced Education
After becoming certified, new teachers will be fully qualified to teach math in the classroom without any further requirements in most states.
However, some states may require them to complete a master’s degree in education or mathematics within a set time frame after landing their first job to continue their career as a teacher.
Earning an advanced credential like a master’s or doctoral degree will also make them stand out from the competition and pave the path for better, more high-paying career opportunities in the teaching industry, such as the post-secondary level.
5. Maintain Licensure
After completing a master’s degree, math teachers must renew and maintain their teacher certification regularly, such as by completing a specific number of hours in continuing education courses to prevent their license from relapsing.
Job Outlook and Salary
The job outlook for teaching careers in mathematics is extremely bright as math teachers remain in high demand in public and private schools and at all grade levels.
Many states in the US have a shortage of math professionals, which provides plenty of opportunities for employment for qualified prospective teachers.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the projected job growth for math teachers at the high school level is 8% from 2020-to 2030, which is the same pace as for all other occupations.
How much a math teacher earns primarily depends upon several factors, including the level of education, years of experience, the state in which they teach, and the type of school.
The average annual salary for high school math teachers is $62,870 and is likely to increase with more experience and advanced education.
Math is a highly specialized field of study. Teaching it demands relevant education and training.
Passion for the subject and dedication and commitment to the teaching profession is also essential to succeed as a math teacher.
Teaching a group of young people can often get tiring and stressful, requiring immense patience.
But knowing that their efforts will open a world of opportunities for students is highly gratifying for any teacher.
This article has put forth all that one must know about being a math teacher. If the responsibilities and requirements of teaching math sound appealing, considering it as a career can prove to be a satisfying experience.